May 24, 2017

Party's on! Agree with NFL relaxing rules to allow TD celebrations? New poll. Vote now!; plus Canes brace for Thursday must-win in ACC; also, a clue in death of Cortez Kennedy?, new Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 24. Thoughts and condolences with the loved ones of the victims of the Manchester concert terrorism in the U.K. R.I.P., innocents. So terribly sad that a miserable coward in a suicide vest can wreak such sorrow. #GivePeaceAChance. 2)  3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Marlins column & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The latest Back In My Day: Senior Discounts: Click on BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from Tuesday's LeBatard Show.

EzpartyPARTY'S ON! NFL RELAXES RULES ON END-ZONE CELEBRATIONS: At this week's NFL spring owners meeting, the lords of King Sport reduced overtimes in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes (because everybody loves ties!), flip-flopped host cities for the 2021 and '22 Super Bowls, and approved the Raiders' stadium lease in Las Vegas. But the talking-point, clearly, was a seismic shift on allowing personality back into the game -- as in, end-zone celebrations. Yes, the Old Fuddy-Duddy has loosened the corporate collar. The "No Fun League" is ready to party. New rules give players much leeway in how they celebrate a touchdown. Once banned but now allowed: orchestrated end-zone dance parties, using the football as a prop and group celebrations. As a further example, the NFL said players may now "roll around or flap their arms like snow angels on the ground again if they choose." Defensive players who just allowed the TD that ignited the celebration might not like it. I'm more interested in what you think. For me, it's good for the league, it's fun -- as long as the celebrating is reasonably brief and does not devolve into taunting. What say you? Take a dip in our poll and let us know.

TezHEADACHES A CLUE IN DEATH OF UM FOOTBALL GREAT CORTEZ KENNEDY?: Miami Hurricanes football great, Cortez Kennedy, the dominating defensive tackle, has died at age 48, Orlando police said Tuesday. Kennedy died alone in Orlando, where he lived. Police are investigating but initially reported nothing suspicious. A relative told the New York Times that Kennedy recently had been experiencing headaches. Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 after an 11-year career with the Seattle Seahawks in which he made eight Pro Bowls. Kennedy made the Associated Press NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s. "Tez" was the third overall pick in the '90 NFL draft out of UM after a stellar Canes career that included his being MVP of the 1989 national championship team. Kennedy is one of six former Canes inducted into Canton, and he and fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp are considered the greatest defensive tackles in school history.

JimmCANES WIN ACC TOURNEY OPENER, KEEP HOPE ALIVE TO CONTINUE 44-YEAR NCAA STREAK!: UM  yesterday beat Georgia Tech 6-5 in 13 innings in the Canes' ACC Tournament opener in Louisville. The Canes now face Wake Forest on Thursday at 3 p.m., and the winner advances to Saturday's semifinals. UM considers Thursday's game a must-win in terms of the Canes staying alive to reach the NCAA Tournament for a record 45th straight season. Click on The Weight of History for my column by me previewing the Canes' challenge in the tourney. Original post: Miami Hurricanes baseball owns the top of our blog's marquee today. Most years at this time, UM is planning for a near-certain NCAA Regional host's role and dreaming of getting back to the College World Series in Omaha. This time, though, that's getting way ahead of ourselves. UM's record-setting 44-year NCAA streak is in jeopardy after an uncommonly common 29-26 regular season. Can the young men of Jim Morris (pictured) win the ACC tourney to secure an automatic bid? Or, falling short of the title, can they win win two games this week or perhaps even three to make an at-large invitation likely? That positions UM, a four-time national champion, in the unlikely role of underdog. Odds are against the Canes. That also lends an unusual drama to the start of conference-tournament play for Miami. Will Morris' next-to-last season end in ignominy? UM last missed the NCAAs in 1972. Today we begin to learn if the weight of that 44-year streak lifts or crushes the Canes.

THE LIST: LOCAL PLAYERS IN MLB DRAFT: The MLB Draft is June 12 and, according to Baseball America's Top 200 prospects list, here are the players from South Florida high schools who are highest rated:

Rank    Player, Pos., School

38        Mark Vientos, SS/3B, American Heritage (Plantation)

50        M.J. Melendez, C, Westminster Christian (Palmetto Bay)

59        James Marinan, RHP, Park Vista (Lake Worth)

60        Jake Eder, LHP, Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale)

68        Jeter Downs, SS, Pace (Miami Gardens)

75        Joe Perez, RHP/1B, Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches)

89        Shane Drohan, LHP, Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach)

Note: Among college players, three Gators, one Seminole but no Miami Hurricanes make Top 200.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-24-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at Oakland, 3:30 p.m.: Fish (2-3) wrap up 6-game road trip today.

2. ACC baseball, 11 a.m. Canes off today, but Florida State faces Notre Dame in Louisville.

3. SEC baseball, 5:30 p.m.: Florida opens tourney vs. Auburn in Hoover, Alabama.

4. C-USA baseball, 9 a.m.: FAU vs. Rice, then FIU-Old Dominion from Biloxi, Mississippi.

5. Dolphins OTA day: Second of three this week, but, again, closed to public.

[Note: NBA and NHL playoffs both off today].

Select other recent columns: Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

May 18, 2017

NBA Draft projections for Heat at 14th include a tantalizing risk: My latest column; plus R.I.P. Chris Cornell, Csonka's open letter on plight of teammates, the NBA Finals matchup you want (poll), hip-hop Jimmy-J, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, May 18. R.I.P., Chris Cornell. See video at bottom of this post. 2) Latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday column, HB Daily & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Newest column: The Heat, the draft and Harry Giles: Click on Big Risk For Big Upside to see how a top-five talent could fall to Miami at 14th, and why the Heat, with proper assurances, should pounce if the get the chance.

HarrygilesMOCK-DRAFT FORECASTS FOR HEAT WITH 14TH OVERALL PICK: The June 22 NBA Draft looms after last night's lottery saw no miracle for the Heat, who'll select 14th overall. Miami had a 0.5 chance at the No.1 pick and 1.8% to get in the top three. Instead the Heat will pick mid-round as the odds forecast, and ESPN.com's post-lottery mock draft predicts Miami will end up with Duke freshman forward Harry Giles (pictured right). Sayeth the mock: "It might be a few weeks before we know what NBA doctors think of Giles' knee. If he's red-flagged medically, he could drop up to 10 spots on our board, depending on the diagnosis. However, if doctors are satisfied that his knees are Johncollinsin good shape, the Heat will get a steal at No. 14. Many scouts feel Giles has the most raw talent of any player in the draft. And the Heat can afford to bring him along slowly, getting him fully healthy and explosive again before unleashing a Hassan Whiteside-Giles frontcourt from hell." My take: See my column, linked above. Always like the Duke pedigree, agree on the big upside, and power forward should be a pretty obvious target priority for Miami. Giles is a red-flag risk because of two ACL knee surgeries. But if Miami had medical assurances this would be a tantalizing, dynamic risk-pick if the opportunity arose. (ESPN has only one state player-college player going in its mock first round: Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota seventh overall). Another mock draft, by CBS Sports today, has Giles and his knees falling to 20th and Miami at 14 taking Wake Forest forward John Collins (pictured left). A third mock, by Sports Illustrated, has Heat selecting Indiana forward OG Anunoby. Well, at least everybody agrees it'll be a forward.

LARRY CSONKA SPEAKS OF HIS TEAMMATES' HEALTH STRUGGLES: In his blog at LarryCsonka.com, under the headline, My Teammates Battles (and we forgive him the missing apostrophe), the great former Dolphins running back speaks of the brain-injury issues affecting Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, a plight that inspired this column by me. The photo shown, of Zonk with Kiick, is from Csonka's article, which we reprint here fully:

"Last Tuesday, my teammate, Nick Buoniconti, went public regarding his current health challenges in an article with Sports Illustrated online.  Subsequently, stories have been published on my running mate, Jim Kiick, as well. I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men.  However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive Zonkproblems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick.  Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal. I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games.  In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury [Morris] and had a great visit. I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life.  We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects. When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, "A Football Life," I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details. That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of. When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man! As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida. I’m glad he’s there. He needs part-time care. However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted.  At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues. Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends. What the future holds?  We don’t know. Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE. After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing. Each are dealing with different challenges. Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today. Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price. I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily. However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron. I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health. I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future. I believe football is a safer game now.  On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it! I’ve always maintained (and sometimes with great controversy) kids shouldn’t play tackle football until junior high for a few reasons. In many cases, they are not well coached and, more importantly, not properly equipped. A child running around on a Pop Warner field with a sloppy helmet isn’t cute to me … it’s an outrage! Also, recent research points to young brains being at the highest risk of lasting effects from trauma. Young, developing brains cannot withstand that kind of hit without some repercussions sometime in their life (according to research I’ve read). Jim and Nick are great friends of mine.  Even though we only occasionally see each other, I think of them and my other teammates often. We shared a unique bond for an extraordinary period of time in our lives and still share in the historic success of our team. I hope better times come for both of them and I look forward to another visit this fall."

--Zonk

WHAT IS THE NBA FINALS MATCHUP YOU'RE MOST HOPING TO SEE?: San Antonio and Golden State are one game into their NBA Western finals, with the Warriors up 1-0 after what was (depending on your view) either than epic comeback by the Warriors or an epic choke by the Spurs. Now, we get a Boston-Cleveland Eastern finals after the Celtics Game 7 home win over Washington last night. That presents four possible combinations of NBA Finals we might see. I prefer a Warriors-Cavaliers rematch (click LeBron And Steph To the Rescue for my column why). You may or may not agree. Take a dip in our poll and say which NBA Finals you prefer to see:

Foxhiphop FoxhiphopFOX-TV NFL CREW DRESSES UP AS HIP-HOP POSSE FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER: Yes, that's right, LeBron. I said posse. Sue me. The network's Charissa Thompson tweeted this out for some damned reason. Is it Halloween already? It continues a trend of younger-demographic-seeking sports entities pandering to hip-hip fans. We have seen it with Stephen A. SMith in promos on ESPN and with others. Ordinarily the prize for most-ridiculous in a pandering Fox photo shoot such as this would by default go to Terry Bradshaw -- every time. But I must give the dubious 'honor' here to Jimmy Johnson, our own esteemed former Canes and Dolphins coach. At far right you see the group photo. To the left I have isolated the shot of Jimmy looking like a Harry Caray impersonator auditioning for an old white Run DMC cover act.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-18-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at L.A. Dodgers, 10 p.m.: The 1-8 homestand sucked. Maybe 6-game roadie will bring luck.

2. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, noon: UM baseball 3-game set ends regular season, precedes ACC tourney.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville up 2-1 and home vs. Anaheim in Game 4 of Western finals.

[Note: NBA playoffs are off today].

Select recent other columns: NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback: My oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

R.I.P., CHRIS CORNELL:

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2017

Vegas to Dolphins: Fluke! No playoffs for you in '17! Agree? Set over/under on Miami wins. Poll. Last day to vote; plus Kathy Berman, latest Back In My Day video; also, Chris Bosh, porn and rat poop, your LaVar Ball verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 10. Our new Back In My Day video from the LeBatard Show is entitled 'Bumper Stickers.' Watch it HERE. 2) Chris Bosh is being sued by a porn website. Rat poop is involved. Story here. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, LaVar ball/$495 sneakers with poll, my Heat/Wade column, Colonel Sanders: Super Stud, your verdict on eSports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chris Berman's wife dies: Kathy Berman, for 33 years the wife of ESPN icon Chris, died in a car accident Tuesday. Story here. Condolences to the Berman family.

DOLPHINS' POST-DRAFT, PRESEASON BETTING OVER/UNDER ON WINS IS NOT A PRETTY NUMBER: Las Vegas and offshore sports books set odds to reflect what they believe public perception to Dolphs Sevenfivebe, and so it may now be said: Dolfans might be confident about Miami's coming season, but the rest of America pretty much think the Dolphins will not repeat as a playoff team. As we were the first at MiamiHerald.com to report, via Bovada, the Fins' 2017 victory over/under is 7 1/2 wins, or just under .500 -- not a playoff number. That's a big drop foreseen from last season's 10-6 mark  that ended an eight-year playoff drought. Further bad news: The AFC East rival Patriots lead everybody with an O/U of 12 1/2, the highest opening number in almost 10 years, and two full wins better than anyone else. Need a dollop of consolation? The Bills (6 wins) and Jets (5) have even lower over/unders than Miami. Vegas and bettors aren't always right, of course. They have set a starting point of 7 1/2 wins, but what about you? Being realistic, what is a reasonable expectation for number of Dolphins regular-season victories. Take a dip in our poll, vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

POLL RESULT: LAVAR BALL, $495 SNEAKERS GET SAVAGED: Ouch. We asked what you most hope will be the outcome in the story of LaVar Ball, Lonzo Ball, Big Baller Brand and its $495 sneakers, and 77.1 percent answered, "Failure. Crash and burn." Only 22.9% voted, "Success. I wish them well."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-10-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Two conference-semis Game 7s with Penguins at Capitals, Oilers at Ducks.

2. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish end 3-game series in midst of long homestand.

3. NBA playoffs, 8 p.m.: Wizards at Celtics in Game 5 of 2nd-round series tied 2-2.

4. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: City rivals Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in 2nd leg of semis.

5. Central Florida at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball needs strong finish for any playoff shot.

Select recent columns: On The Team's Term's, Not His, the latest, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. to read. Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

May 03, 2017

Who runs this town: Name biggest team in Miami sports. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus from Dolphins to radio lord: Mike Dee's return to Miami power; also, Manny Machado's epic rant, new BIMD, your Fins draft verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 3. New BIMD! To watch my latest video (Music Consumption), click on Back In My Day. 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft with grade-draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, list state players drafted, new Willie Nelson song & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Manny Machado's epic rant: Hialeah-born Orioles star Manny Machado lit into the Red Sox organization. Click here for the tirade. Warning: It's filled with expletives, all of which sound here like bleeep. 

ICYMI, my Dolphins draft columns: Two decades later, Zach Thomas reminds us why the late rounds of a draft are so important. Click on The Kid From Pampa to read. Also, click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my earlier column on Dolphins first-round choice of Charles Harris.

RunthistownONLY MAY AND ALREADY DREAMING OF FOOTBALL: Click on A Football Town Again for my latest column. Synopsis: The Dolphins' draft just ended, right after Hurricanes spring practice did -- two offseason events that whetted the appetite and reminded us who's boss of South Florida. It's football, again. Maybe it always has been, although the Heat made a huge claim during the Big 3 championship era. Now, the Heat's starpower is lower-watt, they and the Panthers are out of the playoffs, the Marlins are mediocre (again) and -- whether by default or natural course -- football rises with the Fins and Canes both on the ascent. We explore that theme and more in that new column. But that's my premise; it may not be yours. Which was the germ of an idea that grew into this poll. I wonder what you think, so tell us in this alphabetical poll. I list what clearly are South Florida's Big 3 teams, but include a "something else" category because I want to respect fans of the Marlins, Panthers, UM hoops, high schools and whatever. [Quick aside: The image at right will make you dizzy; do not stare at it. The lines are perpendicular but because the letters are angled your eyes try to convince you the box is tilting to the right]. Where was I? Oh yeah. Remember, this poll about about biggest team, not sport. I know most of us like and follow more than one sport, but I also think most of us have a favorite, or an opinion of which team is biggest down here by however you judge that. Besides, it's just for fun! So take a dip in our poll, vote for who you think is the biggest team in town right now, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

MIKE DEE A MAJOR PLAYER IN MIAMI AGAIN: You may remember Mike Dee as the Dolphins' business-side CEO in 2009-13. He'd been the San Diego Padres' president since, until last fall. But Mikedeethis week he was hired to head Entercom Sports, an affiliate of CBS Radio-affiliated Entercom Communications Corporation. Why is that significant? Because Dee will primarily oversee the company's sports-radio business, and two of its properties happen to be Miami stations 790 The Ticket and 560 WQAM. In other words, the man once running the Dolphins will now have much to do with Miami sports radio -- including speculation that 790 and 560 could merge at some point. The $4 billion marriage of Entercom and CBS Radio stations, pending FCC approval, would make it the nation's second-largest radio group after iHeartMedia. The deal would require Entercom/CBS to divest of at least a dozen stations across the country to comply with regulations, a factor that gives rise to the idea of a possible 790/560 merger. nications Commission. The deal will require Entercom and CBS to unload 15 radio stations around the nation to comply with station-ownership regulations.

POLL RESULT: SOLID THUMBS-UP (BUT LESS THAN OVERWHELMING) FOR DOLPHINS DRAFT: We asked you how the Dolphins did in the 2017 NFL Draft -- what grade you'd give Miami overall. Your results, top to bottom: A/Excellent 14.5 percent; B/Above Average 55.0%; C/Average 25.1%; and D/Below Average 5.4%. Combined, that's 69.5% thumbs-up (As or Bs), and 30.5% less than thrilled (Cs or Ds).

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-3-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Cavalier and Spurs host 2nd-round Game 2s.

2. Marlins at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.: Four-game "Citrus Series" swings north.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins, Oilers host 2nd-round Game 4s both up 2-1.

4. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: AS Monaco host Juventus in 1st leg of semifinal.

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 26, 2017

Dolphins pre-draft poll: Which of these 7 possible 1st-round Miami selections would please you most? Last day to vote!; plus new Marlins-sale column, Pat Riley/Dion Waiters, updated NHL forecast, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 26. It's NFL Draft Week! WOOO! 2) Wright Thompson has an excellent piece on Pat Riley in the new ESPNTheMag. Read it here. Also there's a braggadocious Players Tribune piece penned by Heat's Dion Waiters. Find it here. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On Bush/Jeter agreement to buy Marlins: A cloud lifted over Miami and the Marlins with Tuesday's reports that Jeffrey Loria had reached an agreement to sell the Fish for $1.3 billion to the Je Bush/Derek Jeter group. Click on Home Run For Miami to read my latest column. 

ICYMI, our Sunday column on Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea, and yet I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but of how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

DOLPHINS PRE-DRAFT POLL: WHICH OF SEVEN POSSIBLE MIAMI FIRST-ROUND PICKS AT 22ND OVERALL WOULD PLEASE YOU MOST?: My 26th annual official Miami Herald mock draft Dolclockcomes Dolphinsout very soon. I don't want to tip my hand (quite yet) on how the first round will play out for the Dolphins Thursday night (even though I have an idea). Instead, I invite you to have your say first. The seven players in this poll are not arbitrary. They are players who met both of two criteria: 1) They are at one of Miami's top-five position needs -- linebacker, guard, cornerback, safety or defensive tackle. 2) They are within range of the 22nd pick by being within five in either direction, 17th to 27th, according to the mock drafts of either Mel Kiper or Todd McShay of ESPN. In other words, these are guys who both should interest Miami in terms of need and who also could be available. I was tempted to add one more -- Canes tight end David Njoku -- but did not. I think he'll be gone, it isn't a dire position need, plus I didn't want a UM guy in there disproportionately glomming votes. I also do not include a "somebody else" category because I want to reel the vote in to what's most realistic. Photo at right: Dolphins on the clock. GET IT!?! Now take a dip in our poll, vote and check back often to watch a consensus magically form. It don't cost nuthin'.

NHL ROUND OF EIGHT FORECAST: The four NHL conference semifinal series begin Wednesday, and based on predictions by ESPN's 11-person hockey experts panel, we might expect three pretty clear-cut matchups and a tossup. The forecast is Rangers over Senators by a 10-1 margin, and a pair of 8-3 margins for Ducks over Oilers and Predators over Blues. The big one figures as Washington-Pittsburgh, with Capitals over Penguins by only a 6-5 experts margin. However betting odds via Bovada disagree on two of the series. Bovada has Anaheim-Edmonton even going in, and St. Louis a narrow pick over Nashville.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-26-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.: After Tuesday rainout, Fish 'n Phils play first of two.

2. NBA playoffs, 6 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 5s, with WAS-ATL, CHI-BOS both tied 2-2.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: St. Louis, Anaheim host as conference semifinals begin with two Game 1s.

4. N.Y. Yankees at Boston, 7 p.m.: Baseball's best rivalry renews at Fenway.

5. FIU at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: After 8-7 win Tuesday, UM baseball hosts city rival.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2017

On Marlins statue for Jose Fernandez, and on proposed Dolphins trade for Richard Sherman. Two polls. Last day to vote!; plus Aaron Hernandez suicide, our tour of UM Sports Hall of Fame, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 19. Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NBA playoff preview/predictions, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on if Heat season was success & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On UM Sports Hall of Fame, Erik Spoelstra: My latest columns: Not even most Hurricanes fans have visited the UM Sports Hall of Fame (which held its 49th annual induction banquet last night), but it's a treasure trove worth a visit. Click on History Breathes at UM Sports Hall for my latest column. Also, seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs felt better than this Heat season did. ICYMI,click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

POLL I: A MARLINS STATUE FOR JOSE: APPROPRIATE? OR INAPPROPRIATE?: There are '16' uniform patches being worn by players this season. But those are small, and temporary, and sort of for-the-team personal. Now, it Josefernhas been confirmed in recent reports, the Marlins plan later this season to erect a permanent 10-foot bronze statue of the late star Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last September that killed two others. That's big, and public. This issue grew to complicated controversy by subsequent test results that indicated Fernandez was both behind the wheel that night and impaired by alcohol and cocaine -- that, in effect, he was responsible for his own death and those of two others. That, to many, casts a much different light on his legacy, and raises questions whether a statue is appropriate or not. Results were mixed recently when I asked about the uniform patches. Approval ran at 39.0 percent, disapproval at 32.4% and uncertainty at 28.6%. But a statue kicks the Marlins' honoring of Jose to a different, ultimate level. What do you think? Vote now:

POLL II: SHOULD DOLPHINS GIVE UP FIRST-ROUND PICK FOR RICHARD SHERMAN?: So says writer Bill Barnwell on ESPN.com. In an all-trades mock draft, he proposes that Miami gets RshermanSherman, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, 29, from Seattle and gives up this year's No. 22 overall pick, next year's fourth-rounder, and CB Byron Maxwell. Says Barnwell: "The Dolphins aren't exactly shy about going after players they value, and they would be getting a massive upgrade at arguably the weakest position on their roster by trading for a future Hall of Fame cornerback in Sherman. Miami doesn't have a ton of cap room, but by packaging Maxwell and saving $3.5 million as part of the trade, the Dolphins should be able to squeeze the Stanford product onto their roster. Maxwell improved dramatically as the season went on in 2016, and he would give the Seahawks some semblance of familiarity as they rebuild at cornerback." Me: First let's tap brakes on Sherman unequivocally being Canton-bound. He's clearly better than Maxwell, but the difference of a first-round pick? And Dolphins have so many other needs. It isn't an implausible deal, but I'd hesitate. Now, your turn:

AhernandezAARON HERNANDEZ HANGS HIMSELF IN JAIL: Hernandez, the former Florida Gator and New England Patriots tight end, left no suicide note  but authored the final chapter of his own American tragedy in hanging himself in his jail cell overnight. [Full story here]. He used a bedsheet. He was 27. Apart from loved ones, few will shed tears or mourn his loss, except to shake heads at the waste. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the chance of parole for a 2013 murder when he was acquitted of an unrelated double-murder just days ago. Hernandez had a bright future in the NFL before throwing it all away. In three seasons with the Pats he caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 TDs. He was good. Few will lament his loss. For many, it won't be "R.I.P." but more likely Rest In Hell. But I feel badly for everybody here. For the victims of his temper and derangement. For his loved ones. and for Hernandez himself -- for the mental demons that led to what he let himself become. Ultimately, he has only himself to blame. It's still a shame from every angle.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-19-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Three more first-round Game 2s, including Golden State in nightcap.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 3:40 p.m.: Fish close first series of nine-game road trip after near no-hitter.

3. UEFA quarterfinals, 2:45 p.m.: Second leg for AS Monaco-Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona-Juventus.

4. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 4s as St. Louis, Anaheim seek advance via sweeps.

5. FAU at Hurricanes, 6 p.m.: UM baseball (17-19) still scrambling to get on right side of .500.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2017

Marlins win Opening Night game 8-4 sandwiched around Heat's 2 biggest games of season. What a week!; plus Radio Tuesday, keepin' it Brockmire, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, April 11. Interesting piece here by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan on the Marlins' financial status and how that could affect the interest of Derek Jeter and other potential buyers. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron at Heat in mad playoff fight, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers promote Tallon & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday co-host gig on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show also televised on ESPNU or ESPN2.

Stanley Cup betting odds: NHL championship odds via Bovada show Chicago (4-1) and Washington (9-2) as near-even favorites, followed by Minnesota and Pittsburgh both at 8-1 and Columbus at 10-1.

HeatmarlinsMARLINS OPENING NIGHT, 2 BIGGEST HEAT GAMES OF SEASON MAKE IT A WILD WEEK IN MIAMI: [Update: Marlins clubbed the Braves tonight 8-4 behind Mracell Ozuna's two home runs and six RBIs and a heroic gray cat that got stuck in the Home Run Sculpture] Original post: Tonight the Marlins play the Braves in Miami's 25th home opener. Normally that would be the week's marquee event as the Fish are coming off a decent 3-3 road trip to start the season and tonight are honoring the anniversary of their 1997 championship team. But the Heat! The amazing, don't quit Heat kept their season and playoff hopes alive last night with an exhilarating 124-121 overtime home win over Cleveland  season (click on Miracle Season a Joy to Behold to read my column from the arena), and that earned Miami the right to still be in playoff contention entering the final game of the season here Wednesday. Now, it's simple. To be in the playoffs, the Heat must beat Washington Wednesday and hope either Indiana or Chicago lose. It's very possible that will happen. Heat are 3-0 vs. Wizards for some reason, and Washington doesn't need the game. And Pacers have a potentially tough finale. Details below:

7. Indiana Pacers 41-40: vs. Atlanta .525 Wednesday.

8. Chicago Bulls 40-41: vs. Brooklyn .247 Wednesday.

9. Miami Heat 40-41: vs. Washington .605 Wednesday.

Heat lose tiebreaker to Bulls but win tiebreaker over Pacers.

BrockmireKEEPIN' IT BROCKMIRE: I am loving the new IFC dark sitcom, Brockmire, about a disgraced, scandalized major-league play by play man trying to revive his career 10 years later in the lower minor leagues. Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet have terrific chemistry, the scripts are sharply written and the premise is plausible and intriguing. There also is an absurdity to it that is wonderful. And Azaria's Jim Brockmire is a wonderfully drawn character perfectly played. Highly recommended television.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-11-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Play ball! Opening Night as Fish play first home game of 25th season.

2. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: Barcelona-Juventus, Borussia Dortmund-AS Monaco in quarters.

3. Florida at Florida State, 6 p.m.: Ranked rivals play some baseball in Tally.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes/NCAAs, Fernandez saga, Heat down to 8, viva Team USA!, tennis, Cats, cricket; plus Cote says thanks, Chuck Berry, your Jose verdict, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Chuckberry1) It is MONDAY, March 20. R.I.P., Chuck Berry (pictured in his latter years), the influential rock 'n roll guitar icon, gone over the weekend at age 90. Rest in Peace, Johnny B. Goode. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): We name our March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Love & Regret/Jose Fernandez saga with poll, UM men fall in NCAAs & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Cote's Coterie' lifts us to final four!: A late surge of support Sunday carried us past Mike Ryan and into the final four of Slice Miami's annual sports media poll. I'm now up against Amber Wilson in the semifinals. Uh oh. Click on Slice Miami Final Four to vote.

My bracket update: Still solid: As the NCAA Tournament pauses and exhales I stand tied for ninth place among some 90 entries in a LeBatard & Friends pool. I have 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Is that pretty good? Or average? Took a hit though with Duke falling. I'd had the Devils reaching the (but not winning) the championship game. By the way, to this point, favorites (based on seeding) are 38-10, a 79.2 percent win rate. Once again, the Cinderella aspect of March Madness appears largely oversold.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami makes quick exit from March Madness: An unexpectedly good season ended so badly for Canes men in a very disappointing 78-58 opening loss to Michigan State Friday night in Tulsa. How is your bracket looking as we arrived Sunday at the Sweet 16? Mine is a sieve leaking a torrent of my own tears. (It isn't, really. But it's funnier to say that...)

2. JOSE FERNANDEZ: State says Jose at wheel, caused crash: The story that couldn't possibly get any worse keeps getting worse. The latest: A report confirming Fernandez was at the wheel and to blame for fatal boat crash. Isn't a tragedy worst when you know it should never have happened? (Click on A Complicated Legacy for my column on latest development in saga).

3. HEAT: Can we please start a “We're No. 8!” chant?: Heat fell from 7th to 8th seed with Sunday's home loss to portland -- only the team's sixth loss in past 29 games. Meantime Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of season in Chicago, another reminder Heat seems more and more right to have let Wade go.

4. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Stanton homers as Team USA wins, makes final four: Americans beat Dominican Republic late Saturday in San Diego, 6-3, led by Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's go-ahead home run. Winner-take-all game eliminated D.R. and lifted U.S. to WBC championship round at Dodger Stadium and a semifinal vs. Japan. Team USA has never won this event. "Can you believe it?" said a clearly annoyed Abner Doubleday. Let's gooooo States!

5. TENNIS: Miami Open begins on Key Biscayne: Andy Murray and especially Serena Williams are among major withdrawals with injuries for the two-week event starting Monday. I feel like Serena is so good she could at least reach the semifinals playing on crutches. Meantime, IMG, which owns the event, assures it will remain on Key Biscayne long-term. That means the Miami Open has won the Miami Open.

6. UM WOMEN: Canes win NCAA opener, carry banner for UM hoops: Miami survived upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast, 62-60, at home Saturday in its NCAA Tournament opener and will now face Quinnipiac Monday night 9, home again. What the Hurricanes men failed to do, the women did: Avoid a one-and-done.

7. PANTHERS: Don't write Cats off yet. Almost. But not yet: Florida is six points off NHL playoff pace with only 11 games left after getting spanked 4-0 Sunday in Pittsburgh. Somewhere between simply needing a lot of luck and needing a miracle rest the Panthers' chances.   

8. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor penciled in for September: The hype has begun with Conor McGregor saying he's going to "shock the world" and win by boxing against heavily favored Floyd Mayweather in their mixed boxing/UFC bout rumored for September. Am I alone in wishing there were a way they both could lose?

9. NFL FREE AGENCY: Report: Teams awary of Kaepernick because of Trump: An AFC GM said teams are hesitant to sign available QB Colin Kaepernick for fear of a an onslaught of negative Tweets from Donald Trump. And in other free agency news, the Dolphins have done pretty good so far but not quite as good as the Patriots. Or did that go without saying?  

10. CRICKET: India beats Australia, I think: Actual lead of news story I read Sunday morning: "RANCHI, India (AP) -- A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday." Anyone who has any idea what any of that means, would you please keep it to yourself?

Missing the HB10 cut: Congrats to our blog's March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Ken Whiteley of Chattanooga, Tennessee ..... Canes baseball fell to 8-13 Saturday. Sorry to place you below cricket, Jim Morris, but until you start winning, no Top 10 for you! ..... NASCAR runs today in Phoenix. It will be loud. I won't watch. 

Poll result: Shaky support for Marlins honoring Fernandez with uniform patch: We asked if, in light of this week's report putting Jose Fernandez behind the wheel of the fatal boat crash that killed him and two others, it still is appropriate that the Marlins this season to wear a uniform patch honoring Jose. The results: 39.2 percent "Yes. Because of all he meant to Miami and to the Marlins." "No. Not when he caused the tragedy that took two other lives"; and 28.0% "Not sure. I can see both sides." That's a plurality who still favor the patch, but roughly another 60% who are against it or have misgivings. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-20-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Quinnipiac at Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.: UM women host 2nd-round game for spot in Sweep 16.

2. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m.: First World Baseball Classic semifinal game from L.A.

3. Miami Open tennis, 10 p.m.: Main draw starts Tuesday, but qualifying matches happening today.

4. Marlins vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game in Lake Buena Vista.

Select recent columns: A Complicated Legacy, the latest, on developments in the Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 18, 2017

Results of 2017 March Madness Haiku Challenge right here!; plus, with latest news, is it appropriate for Marlins to honor Jose Fernandez with uniform patch? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, Canes one-n-done, my bracket update, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Stpatricksday1) It is SATURDAY, March 18. Hope y'all had a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Like I need an excuse to drink!? 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): March Madness Haiku Challenge with Canes-in-NCAAs poll, Miami snubbed on best-sports-colleges list & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Hurricanes one-and-done in NCAA Tournament: A positive, surprising, better-than-expected season for UM men's basketball ended with a crash and a thud last night in Tulsa, in a 78-58 loss to Michigan State in Miami's first game of the NCAA Tournament. Canes led by a 12 early before the bottom fell out. Now the women carry the banner for UM hoops, with Katie Meier's crew debuting today at home vs. Florida Gulf Coast.

My bracket update: After round-of-64 play and entering Saturday's games I have 27 of 32 teams still alive and stand tied for sixth among 90 teams in a LeBatard & Friends men's NCAA Tournament pool. Offsetting my losses I have nailed four notable seed-upsets so far with 12-Middle Tennessee, 12-Rhode Island, 11-Xavier and 10-Wichita State.

IT'S 17 SYLLABLES OF MYSTICAL LOVE AS WE CROWN 2017 MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: Our blog's 10th annual Haiku Challenge enjoyed a great response with 141 entries --  121 of which were actual haikus and eligible. Thanks to all who played along! The ones we liked best:

Special mention: To Ryan Meyer, a poet/professor who adapted from the famous Japanese poet Basho to write: "An old silent pond / Past a field of sixty-eight / Splash! Taste the feeling."

HaikuHonorable mention: To Reuben Rubalcava, for: "The madness is here / Let's crack open some dark beers / The heartbreak is here."   To Elliott Gelfand, for: "Brackets call to us / We succumb to the madness / Buzzers will be beat."   To our 2016 champion John Flannery, for "Skipping out of work / Rooting hard for underdogs / Dear God please not Duke."   To Ronald Kinzel, for: "I enjoy haikus / But sometimes they don't make sense / Jim Larranaga."   And to Andrew McTague, for: "It's that time again / Perhaps a crying flute girl / Dick Vitale, baby."

Third place: To Justin Regas, for: "Forget the Plumlees / Coach K 'back' on his high horse / sweep the leg, Grayson."

Second place: To Ryan Rodenhauser, for: "Ups and downs this year / Like Larranaga's en'e / Canes will close on top."

FIRST PLACE: KEN WHITELEY, CHATTANOOGA, TN, for: "Fill out your bracket / Cheer for teams you've never seen / Cinderella dies."  

Congrats, Ken. The judges appreciated the 5-7-5 structure, the simplicity, and the underlying allusion to the inherent ludicrousness of investing so much emotion into teams we've never watched when, for 99 percent of us, our bracket ends if destruction and dnd death."

Ken, email me at the same address to which you submitted your entry and we'll come up with a prize suitable to you. Thanks again to all who played! Once again congratulations to Ken Whiteley, our 2017 俳句チャンピオン!

LATEST COLUMN: LOVE & REGRET: THE COMPLICATED LEGACY OF JOSE FERNANDEZ: Yesterday investigators revealed Fernandez was at the wheel of his boat, impaired by alcohol and cocaine Joseand speeding, the night of the fatal September crash that took three lives including his own. Click on A Complicated Legacy for my latest column on this. It is now clear and official that Fernandez's own recklessness primarily was responsible for this tragedy. Does it change the way you feel? Should it? The Marlins plan to go ahead with honoring Fernandez in various ways this coming season (though not on Opening Night, I am told) and with uniform patches with his number worn throughout the season. I have mixed emotions. The Marlins are honoring the life of a Miami hero, especially to Cuban-Americans, and of a star pitcher lost too soon. But can that be so neatly separated from the fact Jose's own illegal recklessness that night caused this tragedy that involved two other families? There are no easy answers here, and I do not claim to have the right one. But I did want to invite your opinion in light of Thursday's 46-page report implicating Fernandez as the cause of the tragedy.

Poll result: Canes must at least win tonight to call season a success: We asked what Miami Hurricanes men's team must do in NCAA Tournament to call this a successful season. The results: "Win at least one game to avoid fast exit," 46.3 percent; "Season already a success based on expectations," 31.2%; and "Win two games to at least reach Sweet 16," 22.5%.
 
HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 3-18-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Florida Gulf Coast at Hurricanes, 3:30 p.m.: UM women make NCAA Tournament debut at home.

2. Team USA vs. Dominican Republic, 10 p.m.: World Baseball Classic game could tell who reaches semis.

3. NCAA Tournament, 12:10 p.m.: Day's eight men's games include FSU at 6:10, Florida at 8:40.

4. Marlins vs. Detroit, 1:05 p.m.: Fish travel for spring game in Lakeland.

5. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 6:30 p.m.: UM baseball in ACC game. 

Select other recent columns: A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 16, 2017

NCAA Tournament begins, last day to enter March Madness Haiku Challenge! Details here; plus Hurricanes-in-tourney poll (last day to vote), our NCAAs preview column, Eric Hosmer, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, March 16. Team USA's Eric Hosmer, born in Cooper City and from American Heritage High, hit the go-ahead 2-run homer in last night's huge 4-2 win over Venezuela in second round of World Baseball Classic. Local boy makes (really) good. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, onus on Team USA in WBC, Smokey Robinson review & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Happy 104th, Mae Riback!"

Column: Loving the Madness: I used to be a March Madness agnostic who made fun of Bracketheads, but I have slowly come around on why people love the NCAA Tournament so much. Click on A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness for my latest column. 

HaikuOH NO! IT'S BACK! IT'S OUR 12TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: We expect the entries to be pouring in like a tsunami, by which I mean we expect a few, or perhaps even several. We have done the Haiku Challenge for as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. I say unpopular because many of you are intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering better than ancient VitaleJapanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select, chosen few who await the contest every year with relish. It's sort of like a restaurant menu that offers liver. Few like it, but the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem (not 16! not 18!) and that ideally it's in 5-7-5 structure. But we're loose with the structure. Rhyming? Fine, but not necessary.

Three simple but hard-fast rules:

1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament, March Madness, college hoops or the  Miami Hurricanes, it's a valid entry. (Tip: 'Larranaga' burns four syllables).

2. You may submit entries ONLY one of two ways: via email to gcote@miamiherald.com, or via Twitter @gregcote with the hashtag #Haiku. You may enter as many haikus as you wish.

3. Entries will be accepted from now through 5 p.m. today/Thursday, with winner announced in the blog Friday morning. (We are getting an unusually big response this year so shutting entries down sooner than first expected).

Prize, you ask? I dunno, maybe a Dolphins media guide or something equally crappy? We'll figure something out. Don't do it for the prize. Do it for the sheer glory and to flex your creativity and inner-Zen. OK, ready? Get the mind revving. The entry window has banged open. Haiku!

MIAMI SNUBBED ON 'BEST COLLEGES FOR SPORTS' LIST: Money magazine and Sports Illustrated together have come out with a Top 100 list of "Best Colleges for Sports Lovers." Top five are Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan, Duke and Virginia. Florida fares well at No. 7. Florida State at least makes it at No. 64. Miami Hurricanes? Nope. Nada. Click here for the complete Top 100 and methodology.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 3-16-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Tournament, 12:15: With first of day's 16 men's games including Gators at 3:10, 'Noles at 9:20.

2. Panthers at Columbus, 7 p.m.: Was 7-2 rout of Toronto start of late Cats surge?

3. Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 10 p.m.: World Baseball Classic 2nd-round game from Diego.

Select other recent columns: D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote